The Hunger Coalition Opposes Proposed Federal Rule to Roll Back Nutrition Standards
Bellevue, Idaho, March 6, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a proposed regulation that would rollback important aspects of the current school meal nutrition standards and significantly unravel the progress made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The rule is directly at odds with The Hunger Coalition’s mission to build a healthy community through access to good food — especially for food insecure children.
The Act ensures the nearly 30 million children who eat school lunch and the 14.4 million who eat school breakfast have the nutrition they need for their health and learning. About two-thirds of the children who eat school lunch live in low-income households and rely on free or reduced-price school meals. Healthy school meals help combat childhood obesity and improve overall health, particularly for low-income children. USDA’s own research, as well as other research, shows that school meals have improved children’s diet and health. It would be a real mistake to lower nutritional standards as this proposed regulation would permit.
The Hunger Coalition applauds the Blaine County School District for adhering to nutrition standards that are above and beyond the requirements of the USDA. We hope it will continue to provide the same high level of nutritional value despite these new proposed federal regulations.
This proposed rule would weaken nutrition standards, eliminate the guarantee that all children will receive a balanced and healthy school meal regardless of school setting, and diminish the nutritional value of other foods sold in the cafeteria. School meals should be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including serving a variety of fruits and vegetables at breakfast and lunch. Yet the amount of fruit served at breakfast could go from one cup to just a half cup. And under certain circumstances schools could reduce the amount of red and orange vegetables served at lunch. These regulations also would create loopholes in the current nutrition standards to allow for more pizza, hamburgers, and other foods that are high in calories and saturated fat or sodium to be sold a la carte (sold separately from foods included in the federal school meals programs).
There is an opportunity for anti-hunger advocates to oppose these ill-conceived proposed regulations during the 60-day public comment period, which ends on March 23. Click here to submit a comment.
The Hunger Coalition builds a healthy community through access to good food and addresses the root causes of food insecurity in collaboration with key partners.